Video: Fruit Bat Emergence Monfort Bat Cave Samal Island
Image/Video courtesy Martyn Willes
Every day at sundown, when all God fearing citizens of the World are contemplating retirement to the safety of varietous shelters, the 1.8 million inhabitants of the Monfort Bat Cave are just waking to the opportunity of emergence into a night-long feast on their favourite prey: nectar and fruit . . . lots of nectar and fruit. The Monfort Bat Cave on Samal Island is home to the largest colony of fruit bats in the world (see previous World record article).
On one not-so-moonlit evening in June the GetWet camera crew braved torrential rain to bring you this 2-minute video-segment of the “bat emergence” – an event that actually spans approximately three hours, starting with one or two fruit bats gingerly inspecting the fresh air outside the cave entrance and then calling back to their friends and colleagues with a semi-audible “all-clear”.
[The reason the video is only two minutes is because before the video time there were too few fruit bats and after the video time there was too little light – click the bat image and watch it, you will get the idea]
The “all-clear” is repeated by the next, larger group of departing fruit bats and then repeated to the next, larger group of departing fruit bats and then repeated by the . . . . the ultimate result of such a cascade of semi-audible sounds is a stunning excess of audibility. The volume builds; the sky fills with dark shapes darting across the light patches of clouded sky, still visible between the trees.
Standing close to the cave exit, the rainy irritant evaporates as we watch in awe the wave after wave of one of nature’s most efficient dispersers-recyclers-fertilizers vanish into the gathering gloom, sucking with them, from the very bowels of the cave, invisible clouds of potential olfactory-overload and mutual warmth that almost overwhelms.
Background: Before the interlopers arrived in the South of the archipelago in similar waves – during the 1300s (Muslims from Indonesia/Borneo) and the 1500s (Christians from Mexico/Spain) and the 1900s (Christians from Luzon/North America) – the indigenous peoples of Mindanao, the original inhabitants of these bountiful isles, understood the value of the bats and worked with them since time immemorial – harvesting the bountiful fruits by day and the guano by night (while the bats are away). Samal Island, and the surrounding limestone hills of Davao Del Norte, contained many bat caves but today only a few caves are left that contain more than a few hundred bats.
Now, in the 2000s, once a year the Samal Island Bat Festival celebrates the history, the culture and the irreplaceable benefit afforded by the cuddly fruitivore residents of the Monfort Bat Cave. Modern-world-inhabitants come to the Monfort Bat Sanctuary and dance and sing and stumble about, like bats with their ears plugged – mostly lacking comprehension, but at least they come; maybe enough understanding will resonate, enough perhaps to protect both the bats and Mother Nature’s fruity forests upon which we all ultimately depend.
Long may the nightly fruit bat emergence at the Monfort Bat Cave continue!
GetWet Tip: Come to Monfort Bat Cave on the full moon for the best photography
The nearest webcam to the Monfort Bat Cave is Hof Gorei Beach Resort, also on Samal Island
Fly to Davao International Airport